J.W.F. Beaumont, C.J.
1. These are applications in revision in which eight accused were convicted of an offence under Section 17(1) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908.
2. The accused do not dispute that they were members of a procession which was proceeding along a street in Bombay on October 16. Their case is that the procession was of a religious character and not of a political character.
3. The way the case is put against them is that by a notification in the Official Gazette the Akhil Bharat Prabhat Feri Sangha was declared an unlawful association, and that one of its objects--as far as I know its only object--was to control processions of a political character which took place in the early mornings, and that the procession of which the accused were members was, in fact, of a political character, and that therefore the persons taking part in it were assisting the operations of the unlawful association, the Akhil Bharat Prabhat Feri Sangha, and thus committing an offence under the said section.
4. It is proved that the procession, of which the accused were members, was carrying a national flag and cymbals, and that at the time of arrest the members of the procession were singing the first line of a song, which is Ex. C. The first line of the song is 'The sun of liberty has arisen on the horizon'. There is nothing in that line to which exception can be taken, but I think we must assume that the procession intended to complete the song. The rest of the song is in terms a hymn of praise to the Sun, but it seems to me to have political references of an allegorical character, for instance, 'The redness of revolution is appearing on the lotus like face of the East', and it refers to 'the pranks of the demons', which the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate thinks has reference to the rule of the British, though I am not sure that the rule of the British in India, whatever views one may hold about it, can fairly be described as a 'prank'. I think, however, that anybody reading the song cannot fail to see that it has an allegorical meaning and appears to favour revolution, though it does not advocate any particular acts of a revolutionary character.
5. I think that the accused's contention that the procession was of a religious character is not borne out by the evidence and that they come within our ruling in Emperor v. Gangubai (1930) 33 Bom. L.R. 319, and that their conduct in taking part in this procession is sufficiently connected with the activities of the Akhil Bharat Frabhat Feri Sangha to justify the learned Magistrate in having drawn an inference that they were in fact intending to assist in the operations of that association. There is some evidence that the association was continuing to function after it had been declared unlawful. I think that the convictions were justified, but I think the sentences passed erred somewhat on the side of severity, because I am not satisfied that these accused really appreciated fully that they were committing a breach of the law. I take that into account, and as they have already been imprisoned for nearly six weeks since their conviction, I think the justice of the case will be met by reducing the sentences of imprisonment to the periods already served, and reducing the fines on accused Nos. 1 and 2 from Rs. 100 to Rs. 30 and remitting the fines in the other cases, in default of payment of fines fifteen days' rigorous imprisonment. We, therefore, vary the order to that extent.
6. I agree with the judgment just pronounced by the learned Chief Justice.